Cheney Treated for Irregular Heartbeat
News Perspective: Vice President Underwent Shock Treatment for Atrial Fibrillation
WebMD News Archive
Nov. 27, 2007 -- Vice President
Dick Cheney was treated for an irregular heartbeat. The condition was found
after Cheney visited his doctor for a lingering cough from a cold.
"During examination he was incidentally found to have an irregular
heartbeat, which on further testing was determined to be atrial fibrillation, an
abnormal rhythm involving the upper chambers of the heart," Cheney spokeswoman
Megan Mitchell told the Associated Press.
Cheney had a procedure on
Monday called electrical cardioversion, which is used to shock the heart back
into a normal rhythm. This is a common treatment for atrial fibrillation.
Atrial fibrillation, which is
more common among people with heart disease, occurs when the
upper chambers of the heart beat erratically. Cheney has previously had
several heart attacks, quadruple bypass heart surgery, and procedures to clear
clogged arteries (angioplasty).
An electrical impulse was used to
restore the upper chambers to normal rhythm. The procedure went smoothly and
without complication. The vice president returned to work on Tuesday, a Cheney
spokesperson told reporters.
What Is Atrial Fibrillation?
Atrial fibrillation is the most common type of irregular heartbeat. It is
found in about 2.2 million Americans. In people with atrial fibrillation, the
electrical impulse that controls the heartbeat does not travel in an orderly
fashion through the heart. Instead, many impulses begin simultaneously and
spread erratically and irregularly through the heart. The firing of these
impulses results in a disorganized heartbeat.
What Are the Symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation?
Some people with atrial fibrillation have no symptoms at all. It's unclear if
Cheney was having symptoms of his atrial fibrillation. If you have symptoms,
they may include:
- Heart palpitations (a sudden pounding, fluttering, or racing feeling in the
- Lack of energy; feeling overtired
- Dizziness (feeling faint or light-headed)
- Chest discomfort (pain, pressure, or discomfort in
- Shortness of breath (difficulty breathing during normal activities or even